What does the Bible say about narcissism? What are the signs of a narcissistic person according to the Bible? And what Scriptures will God use to expose a narcissist in your life?
What is a narcissist according to the Bible? The definition of the word “narcissist” is not in the Bible, but throughout Scripture we are given warnings about selfish and arrogant people. A narcissist is someone who loves themselves most of all. They believe they are the center of the universe and no one else matters. A narcissist is worshiper of themselves.
But a narcissist is usually very manipulative and conniving, thus they can be very hard to spot at first before they show their true narcissistic personality.
So here are 16 signs God is trying to warn you about a narcissistic person in your life.
1. A Narcissist Will Have Crazy Mood Swings Which Are Used as an Attempt to Control Others
The reason narcissistic people are so emotional and unstable is because they have learned to use their emotions, like anger and sadness, as a weapon to control other people.
These types of people do the opposite of what we are taught in James 1:19-20, “. . . let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
2. A Narcissist Uses the Severest Form of Judgment on Others While Demanding the Strongest Form of Grace from Others
Jesus warned about this type of behavior through the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35. In this parable there was a servant who owed his master an unpayable amount of money, but the servant pleaded and then the master was gracious towards him. However, that servant then went out and demanded payment from another who owed him a much smaller debt. In Matthew 18:32-35 it states:
Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
A narcissist wants all the mercy but doesn’t want to offer any to others.
3. A Narcissist Has Delusional Thinking and Uses Historical Revisionism to Make Themselves a Legend in Their Own Mind
One of the scary things about a true narcissistic person is that they can warp reality to fit their own desires. They actually believe they are the center of the world and start to alter reality to help fit this narrative. They will even change the facts in their own history to help themselves feel more legendary than they really are.
For example, if they were a bench player on the high school football team, they will remember themselves as the best player who could have played in college but chose not to. May Acts 12:21-23 be a warning:
On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”
Herod was so narcissistic that he literally started to believe that he was a god. God put him in his place just as he will do to all prideful people who do not humbly give him glory.
4. A Narcissist Attaches Their Own Meaning to People’s Words to Serve Their Own Agenda
A narcissist will say things like, “So what you’re really saying is . . .” or “Yeah, but I know what you really meant by that . . .” or “I can tell by the tone in your voice that you really meant . . . .”
A narcissist is very much like the fool described in Proverbs 15:32, “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” If someone just hears what they want to hear no matter what you say, they could be struggling with narcissism.
5. A Narcissist Will Twist the Word of God to Serve Their Own Desires
At the heart of all heresy is selfishness. Christians are called to obey God’s commands even when we don’t like them. In self-centeredness, however, humans try to avoid obeying God by simply changing what they believe God has said in his word. For as 2 Timothy 4:3-4 states:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Notice the motivation is “their own passion” for rejecting truth for altered religious truths. A narcissist will do anything to satisfy their own passions, even altering the word of God.
6. A Narcissist Takes All the Credit for the Good and Takes None of the Blame for the Bad
Essentially, the Bible states that all the bad in this world is because of human sin and all the good in this world is because of God’s grace. The narcissist completely twists these truths and takes all the credit for good and places all the blame for the bad on others. You can see this in James 1:14-17, which states:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
We are warned to “not be deceived” because the sinful nature tries to make us believe the opposite, that we deserve credit for the good and God and others deserve credit for the bad.
7. A Narcissist Believes They Are So Favored By God That He Will Divinely Punish Others Who the Narcissist Does Not Like
A narcissist sees God has their personal executioner. They believe they are God’s chosen one and that God will severely harm all those who try to hinder them. Narcissist also believe that God loves them so much that they have a free pass to aggressively attack their enemies.
Think about religious wars or about racist cults who twist the word of God to try to use it as justification for harming others. Because they feel set apart and chosen in an unbiblical way, they feel free to harm people outside of their cult or racial group. This type of evil and disgusting hatred flows out of narcissism and pride.
Ironically, God’s true chosen one, Jesus Christ, did the opposite. Rather than seeking to divide, he desires to unite. Rather than asking God to kill everyone who hated him, Jesus actually died for his enemies. For as Romans 5:8-10 teaches us:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
8. A Narcissist Will Try to Turn Other People Against One Another When It Serves Their Own Purpose
Romans 16:17-19 explains this point well. It states:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
Notice the divisions that they create are stemming for their own selfish desires. Here we can see that God wants us to “avoid” narcissistic people who do this.
9. A Narcissist Misuses Resources for Lavish Personal Pleasure and Neglects the Needs of Others They Are Supposed to Care For
One of the clearest ways to tell how important someone feels they are is by looking at how they spend their money. Our financial transactions are a written record of what we value. A narcissist will love money because they will have an unquenchable desire to buy things for themselves while openly rejecting the needs of those they are supposed to serve.
Think of a deadbeat dad who spends all his money on partying and selfish pleasures rather than supporting his family. Think of a mom who is dressed in the finest clothes while her kids are dressed in warn out clothes. Think of a pastor who takes the tithes to buy a mansion while his church struggles. These are the types of things narcissists do.
10. A Narcissist Puts Themselves at the Center of Everyone Else’s Story
Selfish people find it impossible to accept that there are other storylines going on in this world besides their own. Thus, they somehow always find a way to insert themselves into what God is doing in other people’s lives.
One biblical example of this is the other brother in the story of the prodigal son. When the father and the prodigal son were reunited, the other brother said to the father:
Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:29-30)
This brother felt the need to be at the center of their story rather than accepting that he has his own story with the father. This is what narcissist do too. They get jealous when God does anything good in the lives of others.
11. A Narcissist Will Have Lots of Conflict with Normal People and Can Only Coexist with Extremely Submissive Minded People
Narcissistic tendencies cause these types of people to gravitate towards enablers. A narcissist will seek to manipulate nice people who assume the best at all cost until the bad is so outrageous they can no longer deny it.
2 Timothy 3:2-6 states, “For people will be lovers of self . . . For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions . . . .” The general principles in these Bible verses are meant to be applied to both genders.
12. A Narcissist Has Very Few True Healthy Relationship Attachments in Their Life Because They Are Quick to Cut Off People Who Do Not Serve Them
To have healthy relationships, you must form healthy attachments. When someone has the ability to just cut off anyone from their life at anytime, this is often a sign of narcissism because when you are obsessed with yourself you don’t mind losing relationships with people who you feel no longer serve you. For as Philippians 2:3-4 states:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
A narcissist will do the opposite of this, not considering others and not making healthy commitments that benefit people besides themselves.
13. A Narcissist Is Painfully Insecure and Thus Searches for Compliments Constantly
While narcissists are prideful and believe they are better than others, they do not possess a strong identity and are thus always hunting for affirmation from others because of their deep insecurities. You can always spot a narcissist because they are the ones who are craving earthly praise.
As Romans 2:29 (NLT) states, “And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”
14. A Narcissist Will Often Be Marked By False Humility, Especially When They Claim to Be a Christian
Rather than truly be humble, a narcissist will try to portray themselves as humble to actually gain more praise from people. Narcissist hunt for adoration and praise and then try to pretend like they are just a humble servant doing their job. But they reveal their true character when they refuse to serve unless other people praise them for it and by telling everyone how much they have done for God. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:2-4:
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
15. A Narcissist Is Often a Compulsive Liar
Do you remember how the chief priests lied about Jesus to Pilate in order to get him killed? Why did these religious men accuse Jesus with lies upon lies? In Mark 15:10 we see that Pilate knew their true motivation, “For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.”
Likewise, people who refuse to accept that Jesus is the center of the story and not themselves will be compulsive liars.
16. A Narcissist Will Ultimately End Up Mad at God Because They Will Feel God Is Supposed to Serve Them But God Won’t Do This
Eventually God will put every narcissist in his or her place. The root issue in the heart of someone who struggles with narcissism is that they want to be God themselves. They want the one true God to use his power to serve them. But God will never do this, and those who seek to serve themselves always reap what they sow. Thus, one sign of all narcissistic people is that eventually they get mad at God because he will not do what they want.
May we remember the humble words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in John 8:50, “Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.”